Posts Tagged With: Colorado

Back to Ridgway State Park

Ridgway State Park is my favorite Colorado State Park, and probably my favorite state park in America. We stayed there back in 2016, and I was so excited to stay there again this year.

Ridgway State Park has 3 different campgrounds. We started out at the full hookup campground called Pa Co Chu Puk. Interesting name, right?

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View from our campsite at Pa Co Chu Puk

Can you believe that view? It was incredible. Last time we stayed there I made some notes about which campsites I would like if we came back, and that was one of them.

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Uncompahgre River at Ridgway State Park

Fat Cat loved this park the last time we went there because there were so many chipmunks for her to hunt. She loved it again this time, but didn’t catch any chipmunks; she must be losing her touch!

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She loves to hide in the grass and wait for critters to pass by.

While we were at this campsite Jake and I went for a beautiful bike ride on the Enchanted Mesa. Last time we stayed there I had to go for bike rides by myself; this time it was so nice to have Jake join me. I’m sad he’s growing up so fast, but at least there are some benefits.

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Enchanted Mesa bike trail

This bike trail is really hard to get to. We had to push our bikes up several switch backs, stopping frequently to catch our breath, until we finally made it to the top where we could ride and enjoy these incredible views.

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On the other side of the trail, Chris and Jesse met us to give us a ride home. But first the boys (all 3 of them) had to try out the giant slide.

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One of my favorite mountain towns in all of America is Telluride. We went there twice before, and while staying at Ridgway we went there for a third visit.

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The funny thing is there was a snow storm the day we visited Telluride in late May!

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The last 2 times we visited there we went for a hike, but not this time. It was a little too cold, but we still enjoyed the scenic gondola ride.

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The view from the gondola wasn’t quite the same during a snow storm. But I actually enjoyed seeing what it looked like in the snow. Below is a picture of the view from the gondola on a clear day, the first time we went back in 2015.

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I could never get tired of visiting this beautiful mountain town.

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Beautiful Telluride

During our stay at Ridgway we moved to a second site at the Elk Ridge Campground. Like I mentioned before, there are 3 campgrounds at Ridgway, and even though it’s a pain to move, we love staying at the different campgrounds in the state park.

On moving day it happened to be snowing, yes in May!

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Elk Ridge Campground

A few days later it cleared up and we were able to see this amazing view from the campsite that we couldn’t see the first day.

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I was glad the weather warmed up while we were there so Jake and I could go on another bike ride. This was my favorite bike ride in the country, and I was glad to do it again and share it with Jake.

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Start of our bike ride and the amazing views

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Riding along the Uncompahgre River

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Dennis Weaver Memorial Park, a stop along our bike ride

Another one of my favorite mountain towns is Ouray. One thing I love about Ridgway State Park is that it’s close to both Telluride and Ouray.

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Ouray, Colorado — Switzerland of America

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State parks only allow us to stay for a max of 2 weeks. It’s too bad because I could stay in that area for much longer. Can you see why it’s my favorite state park in the country? If you are interested in reading my first post about this park from 2016 you can see it here: Ridgway State Park.

We thought we were done with snow when we left Breckenridge, but we were surprised to have snow a couple of times in this area in late May. Do you think that would have been the end of it? No! We had more snow in June at Grand Teton National Park. Stay tuned to hear about that next.

 

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Glenwood Springs and Rifle Falls

After our Epic Winter in Breckenridge, we headed west towards Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Fat Cat was so happy to be back outside again in the warm sunshine!

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Jesse was also happy to be done with snow and be able to play ball outside again with Chris.

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Rifle Gap State Park

I was happy to be back at a state park again. I just love the spacious campsites and beautiful views we have at state parks. We stayed at Rifle Gap State Park where we had an amazing view from our campsite!

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Fat Cat was in heaven; finally back outside hunting for critters.

There was a lot to see and do in the area. We went into Glenwood Springs to see Hanging Lake and take a soak in the Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

Hanging Lake is a beautifully clear, turquoise-colored lake situated high up on a mountain.

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Hanging Lake

Too many visitors to this precious gem resulted in damage to the fragile eco-system; therefore, starting May 1st of this year visitors are required to purchase a permit and ride a shuttle to the trail head (May 1st-Oct 31). When we visited, it was $12/person and we needed to reserve a spot in advance. There is now a limit of 615 people per day, and each shuttle accommodates 44 people. The nice thing is the trail was not overly crowded. Hanging Lake is such a popular spot that I could see how it would have been frustrating sharing the trail and lake views with hundreds of other people at the same time.

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The hike starts in Glenwood Canyon on a flat, paved trail running along the Colorado River.

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Colorado River

Soon you will arrive at the start of a steep uphill climb. The hike up is a little over a mile, but it’s difficult because you climb over 1000 feet in elevation. Once you arrive at the top and catch your first glimpse of Hanging Lake you realize it was worth the climb!

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Just a little further up and you can see Spouting Rock, a magnificent waterfall!

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Behind Spouting Rock

On our way to Glenwood Springs we ran into a little traffic jam. We thought it was hilarious to come upon a huge herd of cows wandering down the highway like they own the road!

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Iron Mountain Hot Springs was incredible! It is surrounded by Rocky Mountain views and sits alongside the Colorado River. There are 16 geothermal soaking pools as well as a larger family pool. We enjoyed an afternoon trying out several of the pools.

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Iron Mountain Hot Springs overlooking the Colorado River

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Jesse lined up rocks along my arm, maybe to make it more like a spa experience? 😉

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Our campground was just down the road from Rifle Falls State Park which was yet another beautiful spot.

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Rifle Falls State Park

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Rifle Falls also has caves to explore that the kids enjoyed climbing.

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This is another one of those areas in Colorado that I would love to visit again someday. Colorado certainly has no shortage of incredible places to visit!

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Skiing at Beaver Creek and Vail

Beaver Creek and Vail Mountains were a little further away from where we were staying in Breckenridge so we only went to each of those one time. We loved Beaver Creek and wished we had made time to go there more than once. We didn’t love Vail as much but that was because we went the day before they closed for the season when the snow conditions were not the greatest and it was pretty hot for skiing that day in late April. Anyway, we would like to go back and ski at both of those areas another time.

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It was snowing the day we went to Beaver Creek. The visibility in the morning was pretty bad and there was so much new powder that it was challenging to ski on, although I love skiing on fresh powder.

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By late morning it cleared up and the views were incredible!

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They had some fun Kids’ Adventure Zones that we loved like this one.

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I knew once Jake saw this double-black diamond sign that I was in trouble!

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I should have said, “4 Get About It!”

This trail was so hard, but the kids kept saying how much fun it was. I just don’t get it, are we on the same trail here?? I mean, I don’t think I’d say this was fun. I was just happy to make it down alive.

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The beginning of 4 Get About It

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Me trying not to run into too many trees on 4 Get About It

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Chris going over a jump at the end of 4 Get About It

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And the result of Chris’s attempt at the jump at the end of 4 Get About It 😉

I took so many pictures that day because the views were so beautiful!

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Doesn’t it look like a painting in the background? The mountains almost didn’t look real!

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The views from Vail were also very beautiful, I just wish we had gone earlier in the season because the snow was so slushy the day we went it was very hard to ski.

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Well, I should clarify that last statement and say that it was hard for me to ski, not the kids. Here is Jake going down something so steep I could barely see over the edge.

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I had heard the Legendary Back Bowls were the best but most of them were closed for the season. We did get to experience some of it though, which only made us want to come back again someday when it’s not springtime.

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We had gotten so spoiled with the soft, powdery snow at Breck all season that I found this so tiring. Slushy snow is very different and I was so sore the next day! I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a little more tiring to ski on this type of snow.

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Just taking a little rest.

That wraps up my posts about our winter ski adventures in Colorado. If you missed the first 3 posts you can see them here: An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 1An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 2 and Skiing at Arapahoe Basin and Keystone.

What an amazing winter it was! In our 4+ years of traveling I think I can safely say that this was our favorite thing we’ve ever done.

I’ll end this with some fun statistics. With my Epic Local Pass I was tracked all season and can see my stats on the Epic Mix app. In 3 months we spent a total of 38 days skiing, rode 347 lifts and went 466,736 vertical feet. The # of lifts and vertical feet do not include A-Basin since they are not included in the app, but I did include that resort in the # of days skied. I’d say we got our money’s worth out of our Epic passes. 🙂

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Skiing at Arapahoe Basin and Keystone

Besides Breckenridge, we did a lot of skiing at Arapahoe Basin and Keystone. A-Basin is where the kids took lessons. We took a Monday off work for their lessons in the hopes that it would not be crowded and they would have a smaller class. I was also praying that they would not need to take too many lessons because the lessons are expensive, and I wanted them to be ready to ski with us as soon as possible. Chris and I had our own ski date for the whole day while the kids were in lessons.

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It turned out they had a private lesson that day since it wasn’t crowded at all, and I was thrilled at the end of the day when their instructor told me they are naturals. By the end of the day she was taking them up on the lift and they were going down green (easy) slopes. We still had about 30 minutes before the lifts closed, and Chris & I were able to ski with them for a little while to see just how well they were doing. I couldn’t believe it! In one day they learned to ski so well!

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Their instructor was so awesome and the kids couldn’t stop talking about her and how much they loved skiing. My prayers were answered!

Arapahoe Basin is the highest elevation of the 5 ski areas we went to and had some amazing views!

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We eventually started getting brave enough to try some tougher terrain like this trail through the woods complete with lots of moguls. I may or may not have run into a tree or two skiing through here. 😉

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Eureka was the kids’ favorite. I tried it once and hated it. So the other times they wanted to go down this one I told them to go ahead and I would see them at the bottom. However, by late April after Jake had challenged me with lots of double-black diamonds at Breck, I started going down Eureka with them and I no longer hated it.

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The boys loved the jumps at the terrain parks. This is Jake going over a jump. I did not get a good picture of Jesse doing it, but I did get him on video at least.

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I don’t have nearly as many pictures from Keystone because most of the time we skied there at night. They are the only resort that has night skiing which we loved! Most of the time we skied on weekends except for a few days here and there when we took a day off work. But with Keystone having night skiing we were able to go there after work to ski several times. That was awesome, but the pictures don’t always come out great in the dark.

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Keystone has a super long easy green trail… 3.5 miles.

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Night skiing is so beautiful and peaceful!

We had a great time skiing at Keystone with the Biles family.

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You know what’s funny is I used to love when Daylight Savings Time started, but I did not this year. Once the time changed, night skiing at Keystone just wasn’t the same. It didn’t get dark early enough! 😉 Also, Keystone’s night skiing ended for the season by late March so we had to find something else to do in the evenings, which is when we took up sledding.

Breck was my favorite ski area, but with the Epic Pass it was really nice to be able to go to these other mountains to ski sometimes. If you missed my first 2 posts about wintering in Colorado you can see them here: An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 1 and An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 2.

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An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 2

As much as we loved staying at Tiger Run RV Resort in our own comfy home on wheels, sometimes it’s nice to stay even closer to the slopes. I’m talking ski-in/ski-out type of close. We had the chance to do that twice during our time in Breckenridge.

First, we stayed in a slope-side condo at the base of Peak 7 in Crystal Peak Lodge. We did this to celebrate my birthday. Not just any birthday mind you, but the big one. The big 50! Believe it or not, I turned a half a century in March. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate that milestone than to spend it at a slope-side condo and ski as much as my heart desired.

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Crystal Peak Lodge at the base of Peak 7

In addition, I had the pleasure of a friend from New England come out to stay with us. Unfortunately her original flight was canceled because there was a huge “bomb cyclone” blizzard going on in Denver that day (Google it, I had never heard of a bomb cyclone). Anyway, she was persistent and thankfully made it to our rental place at 1am on the morning of my birthday.

Like me, she grew up skiing in the northeast and really wanted to try out some Colorado skiing. I don’t think she was disappointed!

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While Lauren was with us we enjoyed the best weather and surprisingly light crowds, especially considering it was spring break. Maybe the canceled flights to Denver had something to do with that.

We also got more adventurous while she was with us and went up to the highest point, Imperial Express which is also the highest lift in North America.

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Top of Peak 8

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Top of Peak 6

One of the expert lifts at Breck is the T-Bar. We hadn’t tried that previously either, but with Lauren we must have felt braver for some reason. The funny thing is that back in New England the T-Bar was on the easy slopes, typically called the “bunny slopes”. It was funny to see that the T-Bar here at Breck is for experts only and goes up to some very advanced trails.

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T-Bar

We have a very funny story about riding up this T-Bar. Jake and I were riding up together and Lauren was behind us by a bit. Jake and I noticed some people a few T-Bars ahead of us fell off (that is not unusual on the T-Bar, it’s difficult to stay on that thing the whole way up). There are signs all over the side instructing you to move off to the side quickly if you fall off. So Jake and I assumed they had plenty of time to get out of the way before we caught up to them. Wrong! They started rolling down the hill towards us! They took out the people in front of us, then continued rolling and crashed into us as well. Once we finally got ourselves under control and got out of the way of the other oncoming T-Bar riders, Lauren rode by and saw a mess of people and skis all over the place. I so wish I had that on video! It was really quite funny and we laughed about it for a long time afterwards.

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Jake started to get really brave when Lauren was visiting and that’s when he wanted to start trying some double-black diamond trails. Lauren pointed out some interesting sounding trail names on the map like Devil’s Crotch and Pergatory. None of those sounded even remotely like something I wanted to try, but we did try a couple of double-blacks with names like Cucumber Bowl and Southern Cross. Those names don’t sound nearly so intimidating, right? About a week after Lauren left though, Chris and Jake found Devil’s Crotch and decided to give it a try. Not me though!

You know, turning 50 is not so bad. I can honestly say that was one of my best birthdays ever!

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A few weeks later we had the opportunity to spend a whole week at another ski-in/ski-out lodge. I joined an RV club called RVillage a few years ago. They gave out gift certificates to some of us who joined way back when they first started. The gift certificates were for a Dream Vacation Week at certain hotels around the country for a greatly reduced price. I thought it was a scam or too good to be true when I first received it, so I discarded it and forgot about it. I received a reminder that it was about to expire in April, so out of curiosity I checked to see if there were any hotels in Breckenridge included in this deal. There were a couple, but I still thought it was a scam so I contacted someone at RVillage to confirm it was legitimate. It turns out it was for real and we enjoyed a fantastic week at Grand Timber Lodge.

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Heated outdoor pool at Grand Timber Lodge

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One of the indoor/outdoor pools at Grand Timber Lodge

The pools were awesome! You could swim under the flap to go to the outdoor part of the pool, and even though it was cold and snowing outside, the pool was so warm. They also had several hot tubs to enjoy!

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Swimming outside while it was snowing!

The lodge has private family movie theaters so we reserved one for an evening and watched The Greatest Showman. What a great movie, and also a great time having this theater all to ourselves!

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We also enjoyed playing some pool.

There were 2 moose hanging out at the lodge that we saw often. Once they were hanging out right outside our window!

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I could have reached out the window to touch this cutie, but of course I did not.

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Sadly, they were taken away by wildlife control while we were there. Apparently there was an incident between the moose and a guest staying at the lodge. I was sad to see them go. They didn’t seem to be bothering anyone as far as I could tell.

I did a lot of skiing with Jake that week and he really challenged me on the double-black diamond trails. By the end of the week I think my skills had improved.

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This trail was so steep! It’s hard to see how steep it is in this picture, but trust me!

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We had a snow storm that week also which was pretty cool to see in April!

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I mentioned in my previous post that we skied at 5 ski areas included on our season pass. We bought the Epic Local Pass which includes the ski areas we went to as well as several others that were too far away including Park City, Whistler and even a ski area in Vermont and Japan! The Epic Local Pass was perfect for us since we were planning to be in the area for 3 months.

I will write about the other ski areas in my next 2 posts, but first a few helpful hints for anyone planning to winter in Breck at some point.

The town of Breckenridge is at 9600 feet. Some people can be affected by altitude sickness. It’s important to drink plenty of water before heading to Breck and while you’re there. We didn’t suffer from altitude sickness, but I did feel out of breath frequently. Sometimes just walking from the truck to the slopes carrying skis felt like such a workout! Everything seems harder at that altitude.

Another way to help prevent altitude sickness besides staying well hydrated is to climb to that elevation slowly if at all possible. If you are flying to Denver and heading straight to Breck you wouldn’t have that option, but if you are driving or RV’ing, take your time with the climb. We stopped in Denver for 3 nights before continuing on to Breckenridge which I think helped a lot.

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It was also nice to stay in Denver for a few days to take care of getting all of our ski equipment. Epic Mountain Sports sells inexpensive kids equipment on a buy-back program. We were able to get the kids skis and boots for $99/each and at the end of the season trade it back in for 50% store credit. Chris and I got seasonal rentals from Breeze Rentals. It was about $225/person for the season which was a lot less expensive than buying equipment, and we were able to return the rentals to the store in Breckenridge rather than take them back to Denver. We really don’t have room to carry around ski equipment year-round, so rentals and the kid’s trade-ins worked perfectly. Also, we learned that by the time we were heading to Breckenridge they no longer had any seasonal rentals so it was good to get them in Denver. Another tip: if you need any other equipment like helmets, goggles, etc., get them in Denver. Everything is more expensive in Breck.

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A small preview of snow in Denver at Cherry Creek State Park

Incidentally, while staying in Denver we met the nicest couple! It just so happens they were dealing with cracks in their RV just like we dealt with last year. We were able to share our story with them about how Heartless Heartland refused to help us. Thankfully their story had a better ending. Their RV was manufactured by Forest River who apparently cares more about their customers than Heartland does because Forest River took the RV back to Indiana and repaired everything for them. It didn’t hurt that they also had a lot of help from their dealer, unlike our dealer (Dick Gore’s RV World in Jacksonville) who did not help us at all. This is my shameless reminder to you to not buy a Heartland RV and be very careful about the dealer you purchase from. It’s so important to have a dealer who will back you up if you need it.

One last tip for getting to Breckenridge. This website was very helpful in planning our travel days: https://cotrip.org/home.htm. We watched the weather and the road conditions to make sure we traveled on a day when the roads would be clear.

I hope you find these tips helpful if you ever plan to make the trip. I’m also happy to answer any questions so feel free to email me.

Categories: Colorado | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 1

It has been a long time since I posted anything here, I think it’s about time I catch up on what we’ve been up to lately. We just spent a fabulous 3 months in Breckenridge, Colorado skiing and playing in the snow. RV’ing in the snow is a novelty to us being from Florida. We weren’t quite sure what to expect and if we would be warm enough in the RV. I am happy to report that our Grand Design RV was plenty warm enough and we had the most amazing 3 months ever!

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Chris and I have skied before, but it had been 11 years since we last skied. Also, we have only ever skied in New England so skiing in Colorado was a totally new experience. The kids have never skied so they took lessons the first day. I’ll talk more about their lessons in a later post, but suffice it to say they had an excellent instructor. By the end of the season they were taking us down double-black diamond trails (if you’re not familiar with ski terminology, those are the hardest for sure!)

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We skied at 5 ski areas that were all included on our season pass (more about that later as well). After 3 months of skiing, I’m sure you can imagine I had tons of pictures to sort through. I can’t possibly fit everything into one post as that would be way too long, so I’ll try to organize this into a few smaller posts. This first post is about skiing at Breckenridge and also includes where we stayed.

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The Breckenridge ski area is huge! There are 5 peaks and so many lifts and trails, it was several visits before we had explored most of it. At first we stuck to the easier green (beginner) and blue (intermediate) trails, but eventually our kids wanted to venture onto the black (expert) trails.

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I’m glad they advanced in their skills and enjoyed it so much, but I have to admit there were times I wish they would have stuck to the greens and blues. Those black trails were quite challenging for me. I got better as the season went on, but there were times I was praying I would make it down alive! 😉

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There were some trails called Kid’s Adventure Zones which were basically trails through the woods with fun props along the way. We loved those! I was glad we had kids with us because the sign states adults must be accompanied by a child. 🙂 At Breck our favorites were the Haunted Forest and Ripperoos Forest.

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We stayed at Tiger Run RV Resort. It was a great place to call home for 3 months. It was a 10 minute drive to Breck, 15 minutes to Keystone, 25 minutes to Arapahoe Basin and about 40-50 minutes to Vail and Beaver Creek. I’ll write about those other ski areas in a later post. There were several other Fulltime Families staying at Tiger Run. In fact, we learned all about how to winter RV in the snow from a family that we had previously met at a couple of FtF rallies. That family was staying at Tiger Run also, and we had so much fun hanging out with them.

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Home Sweet Home

Fat Cat was not crazy about this snow thing. She loves to go outside, but she did NOT love it here. I think she was mad at us for staying so long in a place where she did not enjoy going outside. By late April however, most of the snow at our site had melted and she was happy to be back outside again.

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The kids loved playing outside in the snow with their friend Jacob.

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I also loved playing in the snow! The snow was so soft and there was so much of it!

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The whole bottom half of my body is buried in snow!

The RV park has a really nice indoor pool and hot tub which we enjoyed frequently.

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Not all Fulltime Families fly south for the winter!

One day we even saw a moose wandering through the campground!

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Another fun thing to do in Breckenridge is sledding at Carter Park.

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Chris being his usual silly self. 😉

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View of the ski slopes at Breck from the sledding hill.

I can’t even describe what an incredible 3 months this was, it was a season I wish could have lasted forever. However, I don’t want to give the impression that life is always perfect like social media tends to portray. We had our share of challenges — RV’ing in the snow is not the easiest thing to do.

There are a lot of preparations necessary for RV’ing in the cold and snow. We had to put up foam board skirting along the outside of the RV to keep the underneath part of the RV from getting too cold. We had to use heated hoses and heat tape to keep the outside water and sewer hoses from freezing, but that didn’t always work which is why we sometimes had no water in the morning.

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In addition to the preparations, it seemed like our RV home was in a constant state of chaos and mess for 3 months. We were always tracking snow into the house when we came inside, and there were jackets, boots, ski pants, hats, gloves, etc. always taking up space because there is just no extra space for that kind of stuff in an RV. I am one of those people that is very organized and likes everything neat and in it’s place. The mess of those 3 months could have driven me crazy if I let it, but I had to remind myself that it was worth it, the memories we were making far outweighed any of the inconveniences!

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I’ll admit we were nervous about how we would survive spending 3 months in an RV in the cold and snow. Many times we came close to canceling and going someplace warmer. But I’ve come to realize that if we didn’t do things because of fear of the unknown, we would have missed out on some amazing experiences. This is one of those amazing experiences I’m so glad we didn’t miss out on due to fear of trying something new.

So, is there something in your life that you want to try but are letting fear hold you back? Please allow me to encourage you to give it a try. Don’t let fear prevent you from experiencing something new. It’s possible it may turn out to be a mistake, but it’s also possible it may turn out to be something amazing and incredible. You’ll never know until you give it a try. 🙂

 

Categories: Colorado | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cross Country Road Trip

After an amazing summer in the Pacific Northwest it was time to start making our way back east for the winter. We had 6 weeks to get from Washington to Florida. This post will cover the stops we made along the way.

First we spent a quiet week in eastern Oregon on the Idaho border, recovering from a couple of very busy weeks in Washington. We stayed at Farewell Bend Recreation Area on the Snake River across from Idaho. It was beautiful and peaceful!

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The 2nd week we spent celebrating Jake’s 13th birthday in Park City, Utah which I already wrote about. You can see it here if you missed it: Birthday Celebration in Park City, Utah.

Week #3 was spent in South Fork, Colorado where the fall foliage was gorgeous! Our campground was right on the Rio Grande River.

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We spent week #4 in Amarillo, Texas for a couple of days and then the rest of the week in Oklahoma City.

In Amarillo we used the complimentary limo service to go have dinner at the Big Texan. This was so much fun and a shining example of true Texas hospitality!

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We also stopped by Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo to leave our mark on the classic cars and to meet up with our good friends the Thomas family. Somehow we always end up on the opposite side of the country as them, and our paths crossed here in Texas as they were headed west and we were headed east. Someday I hope we’ll be in the same state again for more than a day or two!

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My beautiful friend Erica who I miss so much!

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After a busy 2 days in Texas we moved on to Oklahoma City. Our campsite here was interesting, right on the mini golf course!

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While in Oklahoma City we met up with my sister’s good friend Rene who gave us a personalized tour of the Oklahoma City National Memorial where she lived and worked at the time of the tragic bombing. This was a very sobering site to see, and so interesting to hear Rene’s story of the events that happened that day in 1995.

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We also visited the Science Museum in Oklahoma City which we could go to for free on our ASTC reciprocal membership. The boys enjoyed this science museum very much!

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We moved on to Arkansas for week #5 to visit Hot Springs National Park. I have to admit we were not all that impressed with this national park after all the amazing and scenic parks we’ve been to out west. This was basically just a town with historical bathhouses. Maybe were missing something, but it seems like it’s probably more interesting for adults… not including Chris and me, we’re not adulting right now. 😉

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It turns out we were parked next to another Fulltime Family at the Hot Springs KOA and we enjoyed getting to know them. I hope we meet up with them again in the near future.

The Mid America Science Museum is located near Hot Springs and it is also included on our ASTC membership so we went there too. Another super fun science museum that the boys really enjoyed!

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After an overnight stop in Tupelo, Mississippi where Chris & I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary at a Japanese Hibachi grill along with our kids, we moved on for week #6 in Woodstock, Georgia where we were able to visit with my sister and her husband for the week. We stayed at Victoria Campground which had very nice and large sites and beautiful sunsets on Lake Allatoona. We had lots of fun with Cheryl & Chris playing games and just being our silly selves.

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And then finally, after 6 weeks and over 3000 miles we were back “home” in Florida at our happy place, Disney World just in time for trick-or-treating at Ft. Wilderness.

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We purchased new FL resident annual passes and got busy exploring our favorite amusement parks all over again. Lots of other Fulltime Families spend the winter in the Orlando area also, so it was fun to meet up with some of our friends at the Disney parks.

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We even enjoyed a visit from my parents at Ft. Wilderness one weekend while they happened to be in the Orlando area.

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As much as I love traveling out west, it is good to be home. We’ll spend the rest of this year hanging out with friends and family in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. I will probably be taking a break from blogging until we begin traveling again next year. Until then, I hope you all enjoy a blessed holiday season. Remember to make the most of your time with loved ones and be thankful. 🙂

 

Categories: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rocky Mountain National Park – Day 2

Our second day at Rocky Mountain National Park was very different from the first day.  Day 2 was less crowded, but also very cold and instead of lakes we saw lots of snow.

We drove the scenic Trail Ridge Road and stopped at many of the viewpoints and some hiking trails along the way.

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The higher up in elevation we got the colder it got.  They call this the tundra — I called it the frozen tundras. 🙂

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We saw some elk and big horn sheep way off in the distance, but these cute marmots were the only wildlife we saw up close.  They were so cute and not even afraid of all the people around.

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Playing in the snow in July!  It’s funny, our kids have seen more snow this summer in Colorado than they have seen in their entire lives!  As usual, we were not dressed appropriately for playing in the snow.  We always start out at a much warmer, lower elevation, and don’t realize just how cold it will be as we get higher. You’d think we would have learned by now.

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We did the Alpine Ridge trail hike that was mostly walking up stairs.  It was a somewhat short hike, but it was really hard!  It’s amazing how out of breath we got up at 12,000 feet.  It made me feel really out of shape when I could hardly catch my breath, but then I read this sign which explains it.

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The sign we’re standing next to is pretty faded, but it says we are at 12,000 feet.  That was at the top of the stairs.

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It was 54 degrees up there with 40 mph winds.  It was so cold with the wind!  But how could we complain when pretty soon we had to head back to our campground where it was 100 degrees?

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The views were so amazing up there, but it was time to head back home to the sweltering heat.  The boys also earned their Junior Ranger badges.  I think they now have 18 national park badges!

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We stayed at St. Vrain State Park just north of Denver.  It was a nice park and we had a great site on the lake with a beautiful view.  You can even see the Rocky Mountains off in the distance.

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Unfortunately it was close to 100 degrees most of the time we were there, so that wasn’t fun.  It’s not easy to keep an RV cool in that kind of heat.  At least the evenings and mornings were cool though.  We had some beautiful sunsets and as soon as the sun started to go down the temperature cooled down a lot!  Then we could go outside and play.

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One evening a funny thing happened.  A family pulled up and parked at our campsite.  We were wondering why they were parking at our site.  They just wanted to fish at the lake in front of our site, but it’s still a little strange for someone to just park at our campsite.  Then later they wanted to use our grill to cook their dinner.  We didn’t mind because they were nice.  And Chris who is always so hospitable made them some of his “world famous” homemade french fries to go with their dinner.  They had some extra fishing poles and let the boys use them since the poles we used to have broke and we haven’t replaced them.  I’m not sure if I should mention this because of all the racial hatred going on right now, but just so you know, not everyone in this country is a racist.  This family was black or I guess I should say African-American if I’m being politically correct (which I’m usually not).  Regardless, we had a great time with them that night and really enjoyed their company.  I wish they would have come back again while we were staying there.  Their granddaughter was Jake’s age and she was so sweet!  She loved Chris’s french fries and would hardly let anyone else have any. 🙂  And she was very patient with me as she tried to teach me how to fish.  I wasn’t very good at it.

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The best part about our week at St. Vrain was meeting up with another Fulltime Family there that we met a few weeks earlier at the rally in Montrose.  Jake and Jesse love playing with their son Dylan!  They played together for hours every day and they are really going to miss each other.  But I’m sure our paths will cross again at some point.

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There is so much more to RMNP than we had time to see in just 2 days.  Just like most places we’ve been, we want to return again someday and explore some more.  There is just so much to see and do in this country and so little time!  Are you getting out and exploring the national parks?  This year is the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.  Perhaps that’s why the parks are so crowded this year?  I don’t know, but before we started traveling I had no idea what we were missing.  I hope that my posts will inspire some of you to get out there and explore these amazing places.

Categories: Colorado, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rocky Mountain National Park – Day 1

We spent 2 days at Rocky Mountain National Park, and since I took way too many pictures as usual I will split this up into 2 posts.

The first day we went to the most popular (and therefore the most crowded) section of the park — Bear Lake.  The parking lot at Bear Lake is typically full by 8:30am and since we were driving from our campground about an hour away, we didn’t make it that early.  The second option is to park in the Park and Ride lot and ride the shuttle.  We parked there and were lucky to get one of the last spots in that parking lot, and thankfully our truck fit in it!  Then we had to stand in a super long line to wait for the shuttle bus.  These bus lines make Disney bus lines look short!

Anyway, once we finally got to the Bear Lake trailhead, the crowds dispersed somewhat and we enjoyed some beautiful hikes.

We started off hiking to Nymph Lake and Dream Lake.

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Nymph Lake

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Dream Lake

One nice thing about a more crowded park is there are always people willing to take family pictures for you so the 4 of us could be in more pictures together.

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Next we hiked the loop around Bear Lake which was stunning!

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Bear Lake

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Lastly we hiked to Alberta Falls.

These hikes were all amazing and it’s obvious why it seems to be the most popular and crowded section of the park.  If you come here and want to do these hikes, plan to arrive at the Park & Ride lot early (I think we got there about 9 or 9:30ish and the lot was just about full).  Another option is to go later in the afternoon if there is not a high chance of afternoon thunderstorms.  We returned to the parking lot after hiking at about 2:30 and there were plenty of parking spaces then and the bus line was not quite as long.

We spent the night at a hotel in Estes Park so we could visit that cute and charming town and be close to RMNP for another day of hiking the next day.

Estes Park is very crowded and touristy, but there is a really nice river walk behind all the shops and restaurants that is less crowded than walking down the main street.  We enjoyed walking along the river walk and having a yummy Mexican dinner at Ed’s Cantina.

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Estes Park

Stay tuned for Day 2.

 

Categories: Colorado, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pikes Peak

After our pit stop at the Verizon store for a new phone/camera, we went to Pikes Peak. It was really fun to go up there on July 4th because it was hot down in Colorado Springs, but in the 50s up at the peak.  A nice way to cool off on a hot day!

Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains is 14,110 feet above sea level.  You can either drive to the top (and yes you can do it in a dually truck), or take the Cog Railway.  We opted to drive up (which is how I know you can do it in a dually).  To drive up costs $12 for adults and $5 for kids or a maximum of $40 per vehicle.  The railway looks fun but it was a lot more expensive, and we like to make lots of stops on the way to enjoy the viewpoints.  Like this one!  Who would want to miss out on the chance to see Big Foot?

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We think we may have found one of his footprints.

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That’s a Big Foot! 🙂

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The summit was incredible!  On our drive up the clouds started rolling in so I was praying we would still have a nice view up there.  It was chilly, but the skies hadn’t totally clouded over yet so we still were able to enjoy the view from the top.

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We went in the lodge to try the world famous donuts, and they were delicious!  They call them “world famous” because they are high altitude donuts that can only be made above 14,000 feet.  Supposedly the secret recipe will not work at a lower elevation.

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We got to see the Cog Railway make a stop at the top after we finished our donuts.

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Since we were there on Independence Day, I thought it was so appropriate to learn that the song America the Beautiful, written by Katharine Lee Bates, was written after she visited Pikes Peak.

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I can certainly see how the view could be so inspiring.  You can see so much of the majestic beauty of God’s Creation from up there.

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As you can see there are no trees up there.  It is considered the tundra where tree growth is hindered by the cold and wind for most of the year.  At about the 11,500 mark you will start to see less and less trees.  It also gets more difficult to breathe as the air gets thinner and there is less oxygen.  Chris & I were surprised at how out of breath we felt walking around up there.  The kids didn’t seem affected at all!

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These pictures are at the Crystal Reservoir that we visited on the way back down, and here we saw plenty of trees again.

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The world can be a pretty depressing place these days.  So many sad events happening almost daily.  I’m thankful for the opportunity we have been given to travel and experience these amazing places together as a family.  We are not guaranteed tomorrow so get out there and make awesome memories with your families and friends today.

Categories: Colorado | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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